Odd Request from Customer

My normal line of work is installing cabinets and building TV Cabinets. A customer asked me if I could refinish his Craps Tables. He's in the Gaming Entertainment business. Not real gaming since it's in California, entertainment gaming. Anyway how would I charge for something like this? Time and Material and try to make it fair? I'm going to look at the tables tomorrow to see what kind of shape they are in. Just wondering if anyone out there does this kind of thing for a living? And how do they charge for it? I would like to help this guy since he's got a dead line and he's a good customer or should I try to steer him towards a Furniture Refinisher? Googling for "Furniture Refinishing" in my area comes up with nothing.
Thanks for any advice. Rich
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No help for your primary question, but one idea for finding a refinisher is to find some local stores that sell relatively high-end furniture (Henredon, Henkel Harris, etc) and ask them for a recommendation, or who does their repairs.
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Antique dealers usually are, or employ refinishers
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Tough one without SEEING the table, Rich..
I've built 2 craps tables and they both incorporated padding and upholstery... Might be a total time waster for you, unless you like upholstery as well as woodworking..
IMHO, unless you look at the table and think you can do it easily and quickly, you'll do him a better service by finding someone else to do it than taking the time (probably not billable) to learn a new skill while he's on a deadline.. YMWV
mac
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mac davis wrote:

He says the felt and cushions comes off the table easily and he would do that and replace it. He also said he wants it darker, so I'm thinking a gel stain with a urethane finish, but without knowing the species of wood, I'm over thinking this. I'll know more tonight.
I do appreciate the replies.
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Not sure where in CA you are, but if you decide not to take the job, there are 2 or 3 "gaming" companies in San Mateo County that take gaming stuff to charity events and things... They must have some places that refinish their stuff..
mac
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mac davis wrote:

out later this afternoon.
Thanks
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Call Vegas - seriously.
Call the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and ask them for the names of a couple of gaming table repair shops. They've got to exist in Vegas. Then call them and tell them who you are to see if they will give you any hints or tips. You're not taking any business from them, so maybe as one craftsman to another, they'd be willing to chat.
Also ask if they have any contacts in California that you can send your customer to, assuming you decide that you don't want to do it yourself.
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Most of my business is new furniture but I have on occasion done some refinishing repair and I can tell you that it tends to be very profitable. The alternative for the customer is to buy new so refinishing at a good profit for you and your time is cheaper for him. You must however warn them about problems that can develop and will have to be dealt with as an additional cost.
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Leon wrote:

That's welcome news. I just wonder why no one is doing it in this area?
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"evodawg" wrote

Take on this job and see how it goes. If it goes well, maybe you could diversify your services a little and take on a sideline to your current business.
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I think most people toss it. Most people either have crap furniture or don't realize what they have. Antique dealers do a lot of this kind of work but typically there is a line behind their stuff or they want too much.
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That's pretty easy. I have done a lot of refinishing, and made a pretty good lick out there refinishing front doors. I stripped, sanded, repaired, stained, lacquered and reinstalled on site. Did anything from refinishing custom made doors on historical buildings to nice door on houses.
I have also done a fair amount of furniture.
Easy refinishing is just that... easy. Strip, Sand, Seal. Ta dah!! Finished, collect the money.
A real challenging piece and it can be your undoing. Take a piece that has had several coats of unknown finish(es) on it. Which strippers work best? How do you know until you start?
What do you do for your repairs? Do you sand and fill, use a shellac stick and melt, do you plug, or do you leave it as patina to help establish the correct look for the piece?
And for compatible finishes, or for finishes that would be correct for the piece... try putting them over a stripped and sanded piece that has been finished with layers of shellac, varnish, lacquer, and maybe even paint of some sort.
Then on to the repairs to veneers, remaking or repairing features, parts, etc. And don't forget, every good refinisher knows how to restore that one of a kind hardware, too. That includings of course, repatinating the metal parts as needed.
Those are probably some of the reasons there aren't more good refinishers in the market.
But is you were a one note samba and refinished only gaming tables, you might have something. No doubt they are finished with one of the harder than hell conversion finishes, and probably have only one coat of finish on them. Probably not too hard to deal with if you have a good stripper and a good detail sander. One coat of almost anything isn't usually too hard to remove.
Now you just need to find yourself an ultrahard finish that can be applied in your shop, one that can cure hard for immediate use in a timely manner.
Could be doable.
I like the advice from the poster that said to call Las Vegas. You KNOW those guys have a system in place including strip methods and refinishing protocols.
BTW... do you have to do the felts as well?
Robert
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Do you use an outside stripper or do you do it yourself?

That sounds to easy! And is there really an easy refinishing job?

Which stripper would you recommend?

Ok now it sounds like it's getting complicated. But shouldn't be anything I can't handle.

Maybe, or could it be demand?

Probably only one coat.

Again what would your recommendation be? "ultra-hard finish"

Thinking about calling LV on Monday to pick brains.

No felt. He says he has that handled. By whom I have no idea.

I ask you all these questions because it sounds like you're very well versed in the restoration and refinishing processes.
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Monique! <G>
Actually, I've had good luck with "Hope's Finish Remover", but it's really nasty stuff that makes me happy I don't do a lot of refinishing.
--------------------------------------------- ** http://www.bburke.com/woodworking.html ** ---------------------------------------------
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Always stripped myself. I do it the old fashioned way but with newer implements.
First - never use anything metal. Maybe a brass brush for details, but that's it. Never.
Buy really stiff brushes like are used to clean grout and such, and those will do the work for you. I apply the stripper, and if the finish boils up immediately, I keep an eye on it and see if it is just one layer boiling up. If it is one layer, you will be able to see that it is, and you will need to apply another coating of stripper. Take a stiff brush or stiff plastic spatula and remove what you can, and reapply your stripper.
Don't be stingy with the stripper. When applying a coat, leave a good thick layer on it. If you can, buy those several of those ultrathin paint drop cloths and cover the piece after coating.
After I use the bathroom brushes to clean everything off that I can, I put down another thinner coat of stripper. Use clean sawdust from a saw (not from a planer, sander or anything else) that isn't colored or glued. So no walnut, cherry, redwood, cedar, plywood, cabply, mdf, or anything else. When I run out I rip up old 2X yellow pine as it is the hardest and abrades the best.
The bonus is that on this coat, you apply the sawdust, scrub away with the brush, and the sawdust will pick up both the excess stripper and the old finish. No drippy crap or long stringy things of finish. Just sweep up the sawdust clumps and throw them away.
If you are stripping a one coat of finish, or even some two coat finishes, you may be able to start with the stripper/stiff brush/ sawdust method and you will be done pretty quickly.

I would say one in three or four. Don't kid yourself, it is tedious work. Nitrile gloves, plastic sawhorses (if you need to put the project up), caustic materials, veneer repairs, etc. are all things that most aren't used to dealing with. And deciding WHEN to pull the finish off is hard when you have multiple coats on the piece. It takes practice and patience.

If I am buying locally, I only use BIX or Jasco. Buy the BIX in heavy duty if you can as it has a lot more corrosive agents in it. It works better for conversion finishes, heat applied finishes, and good quality polyurethanes.
Jasco is pretty good, works better on some finishes than others, but is generally more expensive.
If I have several projects and need a lot of stripper, or if I have a stubborn finish, I really like the stripper from these guys:
http://www.kwickkleen.com/catalog
Look on the left hand side for paint removers. If you are unsure which product to buy, call 'em. They have great tech support.

Nope, but don't practice on someone else's property. Get a few under your belt first, then jump in. It isn't brain surgery.
Learning technique is important. For example, when you wash off the project to remove the last of the debris, you should brush it down well with a stiff brush and vacuum it to remove any re-hardened resins that may be stuck in corners or cracks. These will dissolve in your wash and leave streaks. There are all kinds of little demons like that you have to address to be good finisher. (BTW - I found that one out the hard way myself.)

I think demand has slowed as the crappy products that are out there will not lend themselves to refinishing. Most furniture, etc., is made to be used until tossed. And after you strip off some of the wonderful finishes that are on some of the higher end furniture, you will be totally surprised at how poorly built they are of dissimilar materials.

Always like to hear that!

Go to the link above. I have used about 75 gallons of his conversion lacquer, and I love it. It is spray only, but I assume you will be spraying anyway. No professional use/grade hard finishes are put on with pads, rags, or brushes in a heavy use application.
I did see though, that he has some new finishes, so there may be something there.

I would!

Stay away from the felts. Those guys really know what they are doing. They have to align the silkscreen logos and graphics so they look straight, also aligned with the table, and then do it all with the correct tension so it won't sag.
Last year I built 6 bar still height blackjack tables, and didn't have the time to do the upholstered rail or the felts. Man was I glad I didn't. We delivered the tables to a local upholstery shop and I dropped by to see how they were coming one day. Again, I am glad I bailed out of that one. Apparently the client had shopped hard for the felts and bought some really cheap ones, and they stretched all over kingdom come while being applied.

I have certainly done my share. And it can indeed by pretty lucrative if you can tie up with the right market. You would think I was lying if I told you what I got for my efforts, so think about it this way:
- When I refinished front doors, I tried to be at about 50% of replacement cost for a new door, including finishing. This made easy to estimate as I also installed a lot of new doors. BUT, you have to have a minimum cost, of which only you would know to cover materials, overhead, etc. This was just a general guideline for doors and probably isn't applicable to much else.
- When doing projects, do them time and materials. This is where the experience is needed. How long to strip? How long to sand? How long to finish? Only experience will tell you.
- You need to come up with a contract for work that covers delamination, staining of wood you could not see until stripped, unforeseen occurances such as bad repairs being revealed (or worse, coming apart from your stripper), and on an on.
On a gaming table, I can't imagine you having too much to deal with, but on the other hand, I would still do a couple of projects before I sold my services as a pro.
As always, just my 0.02.
Hope this helps out.
Robert
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

to tackle this job. Now I'm wondering what a craps table costs or what he rents them for. Time to get on google again.
Thanks again, I really appreciate it.
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You might try searching for furniture stripping. There are places around here (NE OH) that have dip tanks and specialized equipment to strip all kinds of finishes. I used one to strip pieces from a piano I refinished. They will either also do finishing or know someone who can.
Of course, a lot of jobs don't need stripping, but worth talking to them once you know the details.
HTH,
Paul
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